Friday, August 8, 2014

Extended reps ‘learning experience’ for Pats TE Jones


The New England Patriots lineup was bereft of nearly all its first-string talent Thursday night against the Washington Redskins, and the coaching staff got a pretty clear view of what it has to work with in terms of depth.

Coach Bill Belichick said after the game that the team needed to “work on everything” after the 23-6 loss, noting that the younger players had some individual victories but none as a unit.

One of those youngsters was Justin Jones, the 6-foot, 8-inch tight end who split time with fellow rookie Asa Watson in place of the missing Rob Gronkowski and the other more seasoned tight ends on the depth chart.

Though Jones saw only one pass come his way all game (it fell incomplete), the 22-year-old from East Carolina felt the increased reps and in-game experience were a big help toward improving his game.

"It was a learning experience,” he said via “It was a great, great chance to get out there and play close to a full game. Asa [Watson], we split most of the time. Personnel wise, we rolled the whole game. I think we both got a good welcome to the NFL."

Jones noted the speed of the game as the most significant adjustment he will need to make, a testament that many of the young Patriots players echoed after the game.

"I don't think too much [surprised me] as far as [the Redskins defensive] looks and stuff like that. Everything was pretty standardized from what we had been seeing this week. The speed was definitely a little faster, something you have to adjust to on both sides of the ball.

“Other than the speed and stuff, I don't think we were really caught too off guard by anything. Couldn't get a drive going really and had a lot of third downs and those are hard to overcome."

Jones and Watson will battle D.J. Williams, who was back and forth with the team last season, as well as fifth-year tight end Michael Hoomanawanui for a roster spot.

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